Anti-Statism, Relativism, Prosperity Gospel, etc.

So I took a trip to Myanmar this week. I’ll blog about it later. In the meantime I have a bunch of tabs of stuff I’ve been meaning to share and I’ll have to just dump them w/o much comment because they’re slowing down Firefox.

  • The Atlantic: “Did Christianity Cause the Crash?” by Hanna Rosin. Short answer is No, it didn’t… but the name-it-n-claim-it prosperity gospel probably contributed a little at least.
  • “Who’s Afraid of Relativism?” by Carl Raschke – summary & review of the first two chapters from Merold Westphal’s book Whose Community? Which Interpretation? Raschke is expectedly excellent:

The term “relativism” nowadays is routinely and indiscriminately used as a handy synonym for “postmodernism” by Christian and cultural mossbacks in the same way that “deconstruction” is taken as the first thesaurus entry for nihilistic devastation of the entire legacy of Western culture.  Pondering the “relativity” of the symbolic order – Einstein’s special and general theories notwithstanding – is generally regarded in these same circles as akin to taking a puff of Ouachita Gold and then inhaling.  That is, it is the first tragic slip on the slipper of the slippery slope to reprobation and incurable insanity.

  • The A.V. Club is trying to sum up the past decade. One of their lists is “The Best TV Series of the ’00s” wherein Arrested Development is somehow not #1 and NBC’s The Office bribed someone to earn an entry. I remain unimpressed by Judd Apatow’s TV work (I did like most of Funny People though, fwiw).
  • They’ve also got a big 50-entry list of “The Best Music of the Decade” which I will say is not the worst list I’ve ever read. Arcade Fire got robbed, of course, losing out to Outkast and (FFS!) Kanye; “this is an outrage” “how dare they” et cetera. No My Morning Jacket at all. Zilch. Actually, with all due respect to Win Butler & Jeff Tweedy, I may have to give my vote to “Best Album of the Decade” to Mr. Lamontagne for “Trouble.”

What Life Was Like

Maudlin showman Glenn Beck has the blogosphere yapping over a new schlocky spiel that features saccharine eulogizing for a mythical lost era of innocence and sweetness. In a popular YouTube clip from last Thursday’s show, Beck is seen tearing up repeatedly while fondly remembering “what life was like” during “simpler times.”

The insidious nature of nostalgia is on full display here, since Beck’s rose-colored glasses help him forget what life was really like back then. Like most sappy trips down memory lane, Beck’s “life back then” is an ache for his childhood days — ie, late ’60s and through the 70s. Which is what makes his sentimental jibberish confusing, amusing, and sad. When we hear Baby Boomers pine for “the good ol’ days,” they usually have the supposedly-desirable days of the ’50s in mind. I think the clip has gained notoriety for portraying as idyllic two of the most controversial decades in US history. This is the era of Vietnam and the My Lai massacre; of the Cold War and nuclear proliferation; CIA-backed dictatorships and assassinations; peak oil in the US and massive inflation; race riots and the slayings of R.F.K. & M.L.K. Jr. We had Watergate, the introduction of AIDS, passage of Roe v. Wade, and the start of the culture wars, etc ad nauseam… For anyone, especially a Republican, to claim (albeit with a hollow recognition that everything “wasn’t perfect’) that this was a “simpler time” is just laughably ignorant.


Terrorism & Justice

If just one caucasian Christian kills others because of radical ideology, it’s called “murder.”

If just one caucasian anti-Semite kills others because of radical ideology, it’s called “murder.”

If just one black Muslim kills others because of radical ideology, it’s called “terrorism.”

But if many Muslims kill others because of radical ideology, it’s called “an act of war.”

Institutional, systemic bias is bound to influence public opinion and policy. And if you repeatedly frame the news in certain ways, you should not be surprised when your audience takes your cues and makes them explicit (reap what you sow, etc.)


Dear GM

I read in a recent Wired article that General Motors has an annual TV ad budget of $2.9 billion, second only to Proctor & Gamble (I don’t even want to think about how sick their budget must be). Aren’t these figures just digusting? The $2.9 billion excludes radio, internet, newspapers, etc — just television. That $2.9B is just such a stunning number when you think what could be done with that if GM cut out tv ads for just one year. Several organizations seems to suggest that it costs $240 to feed an impoverished child for a year: $2.9B feeds 12 million kids. This happens to be the same number of children “in need of assistance” in the Horn of Africa (Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, etc) according to The cost/year is $363 according to LifeLine South Africa — $2.9B still feeds 8 million children! Other sites suggest slightly different figures on the cost to feed the severely malnourished and starving… no matter how you add it up, $2,900,000,000 is a really absurd number. I have severe doubts about whether a one-year moratorium on GM ads would hurt their bottom line, especially considering the publicity boost a $2.9B charitable gift would provide. Plus they’d still have all their other advertising mediums.

Dear General Motors,
Don’t be stupid: less SUV ads, more food for dying kids. KTHXBAI.

Extreme Cynic Makeover

I’m watching Extreme Home Makeover because it allows me to set aside my cynicism for one hour and maybe even get weepy (ok, likely not). Good show, seriously.

Did I mention how I completely rocked two goals in one week?
1. Hit 20k FPPs on Stars and ordered my 30-gig video iPod. My black beauty should be here in a few weeks – hopefully before B’s wedding but if not, certainly before Christmas vacation.
2. Hit 41 takedowns in Burnout 3. Geek champ, obv.

Dear mankind

Looong day at work today and extremely discouraging. Only good part is that I’m extremely close to being able to cash in my VIP points for a 30 gig video Ipod. Only stopped multi-tabling for a brief dinner of blueberry waffles, bacon and toast which is probably a meal I’ll be repeating because it was pretty scrumptious. Now I’m just watching a Discovery special on the palm islands of Dubai. I know I’m a nerd but it’s pretty spectacular what they’re doing there. Sometimes I don’t understand how humanity is smart enough to build these islands but yet we still have so many other inconveniences and daily nuisances that forever plague us. Oh, and cancer.

Dear mankind,
Less fake coral reefs, more cancer research.

On commercial break I saw that there’s a new show coming in November called Everest: Beyond the Limit. I’ve had a crush on Everest for a while now so I’m looking forward to this a lot. This blog blows, I’m sorry. Maybe tomorrow I’ll post more of my writings to keep you crazy cats occupied.

TY Dell

WOOT LAPTOP. So I’m blogging from my couch while watching Scrubs. Dream come true, minus the radiation that’s killing thousands of sperm.

I’m headed to Nate’s wedding this weekend, rumour has it I’m actually a groomsman. Which is great because in a decade I can be the guy in all the pictures who everyone points at and asks “yeah whatever happened to that dude?” Plus I’ll get to wear a tux: penguin mafia here I come.

I’ve set aside Bob Dylan and Sufjan long enough to catch up on the newest releases. My favorite for the moment has to be The Decemberists but The Hold Steady and Calexico follow right behind. Beck’s latest is pretty good too, check ’em all out.

Breathing Earth

Willum bought season 2 of the The Office so it was a good Dunder-Mifflin evening here at our little yellow box. Dish Network came today as well which is long overdue — also came with 3 months of HBO free so that’s positive.

Breathing Earth — in the 12 hours I’ve had it up some 75,000 people have died which is bizarre when you think about it. Also, over a dozen countries have yet to emit 1000 tons of CO2, the same amount the USA emits in just 5.4 seconds. NH SUVs, GG OZONE LAYER.

Colbert Report Debut

You know, you really ought to be reading Jordon Cooper every day if you aren’t already. Two good things from him today: James McDonald’s ‘critique’ of the emerging church movement (part 1, part 2) and a heads-up on The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from American Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, And Other Modern Maladies

You know what doesn’t suck? The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. Though last night his audience booed pretty loudly, and understandably so, when he called Rosa Parks “over-rated.” Black Max at The Daily Kos is not amused, while Alessandra Stanley at the NYT gives a glowing review.

Multiple people have been linking to this amusing eBay auction of a pair of leather pants, posted – as it turns out – by a very funny humorist who runs Banterist. Browse his site – some good, funny writing there.

  • Dallas Theological Seminary is giving away free coffee mugs – I don’t necessarily recommend the school, but hey free’s free, right?
  • The Mr. Angry and Mrs. Calm illusion
  • De-animator is a fairly typical Flash shooter to waste time with.
  • Unemployed Loser hopes to make a million
  • Disturbing Search Requests tracks the bizarre way people find sites.
  • Al Roker, intrepid weather reporter.